Hoping against Hope

2021 02 28 Alan Storey: Hoping against Hope

[Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38]

2021 02 28 Candle for Peace, Hope and Justice (Dr Gilbert Lawrence)

Listening to Scripture as a Therapist

 

Friends,

Therapists listen.

Week in and week out – they listen.

Their days are divided into uncompromising 50 minute segments.

50 minute segments of listening.

Therapists listen to people weaving together the tapestry of their lives … threading words into patterns of meaning … hoping that the newly woven meaning will hold … will be a home to nest in … yet seldom do the first number of attempts satisfy. Each to be torn apart before attempting another – sometimes torn apart in a weaver-bird-like-tantrum.

Yet through it all the therapist is listening.

Listening through the endless repeats.

Listening for who or what is always mentioned and for who or what is never mentioned.

Listening for who is blamed and who is defended.

Listening for the words spoken with cement-like-certainty and for the words of doubt … knowing that they may be a proxy for each other.

Therapists perhaps especially listen for the contradictions or even the slightest variations within our stories. Not with the purpose to correct, catch out or even point out, and certainly not to accuse or condemn … but with curious hopefulness that here – where our story is inconsistent or simply uneven – that here there may be a potential “in” … a possible entry – like a picture or bookcase against a wall, that just needs to be touched in a certain way – for it to slowly swivel open – revealing a dusty web-strewn corridor … leading to a distant room filled with light.

Ironically and most thankfully, the words we most fear to speak, for fear of being judged and rejected, are often the words that move therapists to awe. Awe not for the content of the words but for the courage it took to speak them. Therapists, like poets know that “too much truth is hard to bear” and so they know how we must have wrestled with ourselves to finally speak it out … overcoming our fears, our guilt, our shame and our defensive denials. They know we fear the truth as much as we long for it. They know we defend ourselves from the truth even while we seek it. They know – and so regardless of what horrors our words reveal – the therapist takes an inward bow to the brave one sitting opposite them.

Now imagine you are a therapist. You are listening to the Scriptures as if they were a recording of the many sessions you have had with each of the characters in the text … in this case – the first three chapters of 1 Samuel.

What do we hear? What do we learn?

This is the introduction for our reflection tomorrow morning. I invite you to read 1 Samuel 1-3:20 in preparation.

In grace, Alan

If you would like to zoom link for the Sunday Service – please email welcome@cmm.org.za And if you would like to be sent the link each week – ask to be put on the CMM WhatsApp group.

Doomsday and Being Loved with an Everlasting Love

Sunday Sermon:

2021 01 03 Alan Storey: Doomsday and Being Loved with an Everlasting Love
[Jeremiah 31:1-14; John 1:14]

Resurrection hope

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:12

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An Easter Prayer of Promise

I live each day to kill death;
I die each day to beget life,
and in this dying unto death,
I die a thousand times and am reborn another thousand through that love …,
which nourishes hope!

Julia Esquivel, Guatemala

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To trust in the Resurrection is the most radical of HOPE-HOLDING.  It is to hold onto hope regardless of anything and everything.  It is to hold onto hope even when all is dead and buried.  It is to hold onto hope when there is no hope left to hold….but to do so in any case.

I invite you to Meditate on the Brazilian theologian, Rubem Alves’ poem What is Hope?

What is hope?
It is a presentiment that imagination is more real
and reality less real than it looks.
It is a hunch
that the overwhelming brutality of facts
that oppress and repress is not the last word.
It is a suspicion
that reality is more complex
than realism wants us to believe
and that the frontiers of the possible
are not determined by the limits of the actual
and that in a miraculous and unexpected way
life is preparing the creative events
which will open the way to freedom and resurrection…
The two, suffering and hope, live from each other.
Suffering without hope
produces resentment and despair,
hope without suffering
creates illusions, naiveté, and drunkenness…
Let us plant dates
even though those who plant them will never eat them.
We must live by the love of what we will never see.
This is the secret discipline.
It is a refusal to let the creative act
be dissolved in immediate sense experience
and a stubborn commitment to the future of our grandchildren.
Such disciplined love
is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints
the courage to die for the future they envisaged.
They make their own bodies
the seed of their highest hope.

With the HOPE that we will live with the love of what we will never see.

Grace, Alan